A look at the Laser Science and Technology Centre and the Scientific Analysis Group, both in New Delhi.

This week we shall cover two research institutions under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the first focussing on laser and the other on electronic communication.

There are controversies and rival claims about the discovery of laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation). But a laser beam was created in 1960. Laser technology has a wide variety of applications including those in our everyday life. It is used for scientific, military, medical and commercial purposes. High mono-chromaticity, coherence, and ability to reach extremely high powers are the features of laser that make it employable in diverse situations. Here, we look at some of the military applications of laser.

The DRDO has an institution that focusses on the military uses of laser and research on this subject: The Laser Science and Technology Centre (LASTEC), Metcalfe House, Delhi – 110 054;

Web: www.drdo.gov.in/drdo/labs/ LASTEC/English/index.jsp? pg=homebody.jsp.

The centre was born in 1950 as the Defence Science Laboratory (DSL), functioning as a nucleus laboratory in Defence science. It was located on the National Physical Laboratory premises. In 1960, it was moved to Metcalfe House and named the Defence Science Centre. The thrust needed on research in laser, opto-electronic systems, and related technologies was appreciated and in 1999 the centre was renamed the Laser Science and Technology Centre.

Later on, some of the activities of the original DSL were distributed among the various DRDO laboratories. To begin with, the lab touched research on various areas such as operational research, ballistics, electronics and communication, explosives, physiology, nuclear medicine, and food technology. After 1970, the research became more focused in application-oriented areas such as liquid fuel technology, spectroscopy and crystallography.

The lab has to its credit substantial contributions in areas such as missile programme, trajectory modelling, Joule-Thomson mini cooler, and infrared dome material, polyurethane for potting of electronic circuits, microphone grid (for locating gun position by sound ranging methods), and air-ventilated suits.

The major thrust on laser technology came in 1982. Further, LASTEC was made responsible for the development of lasers for directed energy applications as one of its major missions. Aspirants for research would be interested to learn that it has grown as a centre of excellence in certain domains of research. Some of these areas of development are:

High-power laser sources and related technologies.

Electro-optic countermeasure equipment.

Battlefield optoelectronic simulator and sensor systems.

Solid-state laser sources for military applications.

Laser materials and Laser based remote sensing technologies for detection and identification of nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare agents and explosive agents.

The technologies developed by LASTEC include the direct retrofitting of a laser module with slit lamp microscope and the in-situ energy measurement unit.

There is ample infrastructure to meet the tough demands of laser research. They include sophisticated items of equipment such as Tyman Green Interferometer, Czochralski Crystal Puller, Ion Beam Sputtered Coating Unit, and Cold Iso-static Press.

A remarkable product developed by LASTEC is an ophthalmic laser system used for photo-disruption applications. It was developed under the aegis of the Society for Biomedical Technology. The device, named “Drishti - 1064,” is for the treatment of post-cataract opacification and glaucoma. It was subjected to confirmatory clinical tests and approved by leading ophthalmologists.

The centre makes collaborative efforts with other DRDO research laboratories.

Electronics R&D

The DRDO has a unit engaged in research and development work in the field of electronics, with a focus on the communication system in Defence services: The Scientific Analysis Group (SAG), Metcalfe House, Delhi - 110 054;

Web: www.drdo.gov.in/drdo/labs /SAG/English/index.jsp? pg=homebody.jsp.

The unit which was established in 1963 takes up projects on mathematical, communication and speech analysis as well. Its areas of studies and research include the following.

Advanced mathematical and statistical analysis and development of tools.

High performance computing.

Linguistics — computational and structural.

Microprocessor-based systems.

Satellite communication.

Signal processing.

Simulation studies.

Speech analysis — recognition and synthesis.

The products of results, though primarily meant for the armed forces, are sometimes shared with other government departments. Consequently, the requirements of those departments may have to be studied and appropriate research in electronics with a specific orientation carried out.